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Foundation Against Cancer (Belgium) 'Birth'

About this video

 

Belgian agency Openhere gave Glassworks Amsterdam the great opportunity to create a photo-real CG unborn baby for the non-profit Foundation Against Cancer.

The challenge was to make the baby look real and lovely, so we began by looking at lots of reference pictures and videos. Once the baby was modelled, we edited a pre-viz to visualise the edit, choosing the most interesting camera angles and the most pleasing movements.

Markus Lauterbach, our 3D 'look-expert', then worked on textures, shading and rendering, to make the baby look as beautiful as possible: "The challenge for me was to get as much detail as possible into a very shallow depth of field. I used hi-res textures of real baby skin to cover our model (thanks Milo and Marco;) ), added some cg hair to get fine highlights and used Arnold, our new render system, to generate the skin shader. Arnold has excellent subsurface scattering options, which turned out to be a great help for our backlit scene."

Dan Hope, our senior 3D animator, rigged the baby so every little part could move, and started to breathe life into the baby: "For my part it was important to get the baby moving in a subtle, believable way and yet make the piece still visually interesting. Due to the close-up nature of the shots it was decided early on that we would try facial motion capture to mimic subtle life-like movements. Careful attention was paid to the interaction between body parts such as hands and feet to make the body shots visually believable yet not overly animated."

Morten Vinther, our head of 2D, was involved from the beginning: "Giving birth to the Baby, Emily, quickly became a labour of love for all of us. The challenge from a compositing point of view was to make it believable that Emily really was sitting in a womb. The animation and lighting on the renders from our new renderer Arnold were amazing but they lacked the atmosphere surrounding a baby in a womb. To achieve the liquid feel we shot many elements in a water tank here at Glassworks with macro lenses. We combined these elements with particle systems in Flame and supplemented with XSi particles where necessary to achieve a watery feel. Layers of color identification, bones, veins and ambient occlusion passes were used to get just the right tones for the areas of the skin where light passed through it. Procedural effects like local area distortion, defocus and some slight chromatic warping combined with a depth-based grade in Flame completed the look." 

Glassworks is delighted that we could help the Belgium Foundation Against Cancer to communicate such an important message and are proud to show the result. 

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Glassworks team

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